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Your friendly neighborhood practitioner.

February 28, 2012

Over the last couple of months I’ve been doing, thinking, writing and not-posting a great deal. Events (both professional and private) have given me a wealth of topics to ponder and act on – so coming up, a series of posts, for which this is a kind of introduction.

I was an architect for some 15 years. I tell folk I’m ‘pro-tired’ now, which means I chose to leave one career for an other, more engaging one, and that I don’t take on architectural clients unless I really, really want to.

But back when I was an architect, I gradually came to develop an ethos and modus operandi for the house-design (domestic) work I did as follows:

  • I expected my work with my clients to be a once-in-their-lifetime experience.
  • The interaction would be intense, intimate, and mutually rewarding.
  • Clients would come to me because they sought change but recognised they lacked the experience, or confidence, or specialist knowledge to sucessfully produce change for the better.
  • My role was as much educative as anything else. It was my responsibility to guide clients into a clearer understanding of: how they lived already; what of that worked and what didn’t work; what their vision for the future was; and how that future could be realised within real world constraints (eg site, budget).
  • Earned trust and mutual respect was fundamental.
  • The experience should be positive, thought-provoking, even fun – and not scarey. Set-backs were inevitable, no matter how carefully all the i’s were dotted and the t’s crossed. A fundamental part of my job was to prepare clients to meet set-backs with resilience.
  • There was always a mutally agreed Plan B. And possibly a C and D. Choice always trumped obstacles.
  • From the first meeting to the housewarming party, the process moved forward through loops of question, suggestion, consideration, response, interpretation.
  • The house belonged to the client.* The outcome of the work was the client‘s future life.
  • Some clients had clear ideas for their future life: about what they wanted, or didn’t want. Some had strong visions they were initially unable to articulate; some had a shopping list of loose aspirations they wanted help in sorting and clarifying. Some clients had ideas but lacked confidence in them; some clients came to me precisely because they wanted the stimulation of new and different ideas. In other words, even though people ‘know’ what an architect does, people come to an architect for a broad range of reasons, purposes and outcomes.

These days my modus operandi is pretty similar – if you substitute the word ‘client’ for ‘student’, and the word ‘house’ for ‘self’ (or body, if you must). Though it does involve less drawing, and MUCH less money.

What’s really different though, is in the last dot point. Even if folks’ ideas of what an architect does are as varied (in accuracy as well as scope) as their reasons for seeking one out, you can’t substitute the word ‘architect’ for the words ‘Feldenkrais Practitioner’, because very few people “know” what a Feldenkrais Practitioner does. There is no “What My Friends Think I Do” poster for Feldenkrais Practitioners.**

One of the things I want to do over the next few posts is to flesh out my thoughts around what a Feldenkrais Practitioner does (and does not do), why you might want to seek one out (or not), and how we might frame (or reframe) the profession (at least in Australia). I invite you all to join in the process.

* It’s amazing how many architects lose sight of this one.

** though as I typed that sentence I thought “Hey, wouldn’t it be great if over this series of posts I and you, Dear Reader, put one together?”

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 28, 2012 7:08 pm

    I appreciate the perspective you express on the teacher-student relationship and the lovely way you express. It is indeed about the client’s life.

    I look forward to more.

  2. February 29, 2012 3:26 pm

    Some of your friends think what you do is remarkable. I can’t speak for them all.
    Your parents probably think you are fiddling about and when are you going to settle down and do something serious… Am I projecting?
    Society doesn’t think about what you do. Will it make me lose 20 kilos in 20 days and be on telly? No? Then I am not interested.
    ????? doesn’t think. But does ask a lot of questions.
    Far be it for me to assume what you think you do.
    And what you really do… You can fill that in yourself!

    Hmmmm… Seriously, a lot of this would be the same for a freelance editor!

  3. March 1, 2012 3:36 am

    Having contributed some silliness to the “Sh*t [people] Say” meme (Sh*t Feldies Say is on YouTube), I was willing to try my hand at the “What my friends think I do” meme as well. However, the conclusion I reached was your starting point — and very profound and accurate in itself. That is — a question mark in every category.

    I choose to interpret this symbol to signify the cultivation of curiosity and active inquiry, rather than confusion. Although, perhaps they are related. . .

    Eager to see what other people come up with.

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